Forthcoming from FAIR and FARMS

I realize that Mormon apologetics is something of a minority taste among participants in the Bloggernacle. But for the benefit of those who have an interest in this sort of thing, as I do, I would like to alert you to some forthcoming developments.


First, the 2007 FAIR Conference will be held on August 2-3 at the South Towne Exposition Center. Details may be found here.

I have managed to attend every FAIR Conference since the beginning. The first one was held in a Relief Society room in Ben Lomond, California; there were almost more speakers than there were people in the audience. It was a great assortment of people; it was there that I first met Dan Peterson and Bob Rees, for example. The next year the conference was held at Alta, then it moved to the Women’s Conference Center in Provo, then to UVSC, and the last few years it has been at the present location in Sandy. About 200 to 250 attend. I think it’s a lot of fun. The tentative schedule of speakers is as follows:

Thursday Schedule-August 2

8:00 am


9:00 am


9:10 am

Steve Olson-Are the Church Archives Closed?

10:10 am

Terryl Givens-When Souls Had Wings: What the Western Tradition Has to Teach Us About Pre-Existence.

11:10 am

Brian Hauglid-Whence the Book of Abraham? A Case Study for Re-Thinking LDS Apologetics.

12:10 pm


1:30 pm

Blake Ostler-Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment.

2:30 pm

Jeff Walker-Joseph Smith’s Escape from Liberty.

3:30 pm

Snack Break

3:45 pm

Wendy Ulrich-Seeing our blindness: personal history, religious experience, and the need for story.

4:45 pm

John Sorenson-The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies.

5:45 pm


6:30 pm

Speaker’s Banquet (For speakers and guests)

Friday Schedule-August 3

8:00 am


9:00 am

Opening Comments

9:05 am

Richard Turley-Reflections on Mountain Meadows.

10:05 am

Larry Morris-The Cowdery Controversies.

11:05 am

David Bokovoy-Isaiah in the Book of Mormon: The Things of Joseph and the Things of the Jews.

12:05 pm


1:00 pm

FAIR Business–Video Preview.

1:30 pm

Craig Foster & Steve Mayfield-Demonstrations, Protests, and Pamphleteering in the Heart of Mormonism.

2:30 pm

John Hall-As Far as It is Translated Correctly: The Problem of Tampering with the Word of God in the Transmission and Translation of the New Testament

3:30 pm

Snack Break

3:45 pm

Bill Hamblin-Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History

4:45 pm

Daniel Peterson-God and Mr. Hitchens

5:45 pm



Second, the following is a slightly edited announcement of the forthcoming FARMS Review 19/1, which will be out shortly, courtesy of Lou Midgley, which I share here by permission:

I have an urge to announce that the technical editing for FR 19/1 is now complete and this issue should go to the printers soon. I am tempted to let the cat out of the bag on some of its contents. In fact I will do just that.

M. Gerald (Jerry) Bradford has a long essay on Mormon studies programs. We also are including an exchange between Michael Heiser and David Bokovoy on Psalm 82. This begins with a commentary by Heiser on Dan Peterson’s famous essay, and then a response by Bokovoy and a rejoinder by Heiser. I see this as a model for such exchanges. It is both learned and civil. We have also included a nice essay by James (Jim) Faulconer entitled “Rethinking Theology.” Jim offers some cogent advice to those who just cannot resist speculation, wooly or otherwise.

We also have essays by Ralph Hancock, Terryl Givens, Bill Hamblin, Alyson Von Feldt, Brant Gardner, Richard Williams and, alas, I also contributed an essay. For those who are interested, we have a rather sprightly, even a bit naughty “editor’s introduction” by Dan Peterson in which there is considerable mention of Richard Bushman’s work as an historian. We have included nice eulogies by John Sorenson and James (Jim) Allen for our friend Davis Bitton.

Since I am writing this little report, I will venture an explanation of my own essay. I thought that I had reviewed Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling in the “Editor’s Introduction” to FR 18/2. But others thought differently; they insisted that I had to actually mention Bushman’s name and the title of his book, which I had intentionally avoided doing in “Knowing Brother Joseph Again.” So I wrote another essay in which I actually talk about Bushman and his book.

Now, while I have everyone’s attention, I must indicate that I find it a bit odd that anyone would recommend any biography of Joseph Smith other than Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling. It is a grave though understandable mistake to turn to books that are grounded on late reminiscences or that collect such items, if one wants real information about Joseph Smith. We must confront, instead, the earliest and more direct textual materials. I must be blunt at this point. The fact is that the tales collected and used by Truman Madsen or that book by Mark McConkie are not sound sources for biographical information. They are, instead, efforts to lionize Joseph Smith and they divert attention from his rough edges. They may make us feel good. In doing this they tend to make of Joseph Smith more than he was or could have been. They tend to remove the scandal, which I think is exactly the wrong thing to do. If you have read and followed the discussion of RSR, you will have noticed that Bushman has explained why he simply could not draw on late materials. And, if you have followed the efforts of Larry Morris and Mark Ashurst-McGee, published in the Review, to respond to Dan Vogel and others who insist on using secondary, very late materials or hearsay, you will see exactly why Bushman did not go down that road. And also why we should be very cautious about doing this either.


  1. Wow, that last paragraph of Lou’s blew my mind.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    BTW, for anyone looking for me at MHA this weekend, I’m having a medical problem which I think will prevent me from coming out. (Damn!) But I plan to be at both the FAIR conference and Sunstone the following week this August.

  3. Aaron Brown says:

    Looks like at least two of the presenters (Ostler and Peterson) often roam around here. I’m sure, with their Bloggernacle connections, they’ll bring considerable cache to the FAIR conference. :)

    Aaron B

  4. Er, for those of us out in the mission field, the South Towne Exposition Center is presumably located in Salt Lake City?

  5. Duh, Sandy, sorry – I wasn’t reading the post closely enough. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Eric Russell says:

    If Dan Peterson really wrote a naughty editor’s introduction about Richard Bushman, I’m totally buying that issue.

  7. I’m really curious about Brian Hauglid’s thing on the Book of Abraham.

    BTW – is there really that big a disinterest or actual hostility to apologetics on the various blogs? I hear comments occasionally, although often they seem to be taking a very few atypical papers as constitutive of the whole. Yet I kind of assumed most liked a lot of the research FARMS has done.

  8. a random John says:


    Louis is full of surprises.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t know for sure, Clark; it’s just my impression.

  10. Matt W. says:

    Terryl Givens kind of has the same power over me that Ardis Parshall has. They could right instructions for washing hair and I’d be interested. Can’t wait for this to trickle down to San Antonio eventually.

  11. Terryl Givens, Blake Ostler, David Bokovoy, John Hall, Bill Hamblin, and Dan Peterson lectures . . . they all sound interesting. I hope to be there. I will be the guy sitting in the back quietly . . . all ears . . . taking notes.

    And I look forward to reading the exchange between Heiser and Bokovoy.

    Thanks Kevin for the post. I didn’t know the schedule.

  12. Hope you get better, Kevin.
    Thanks for the post. The FARMS Review sounds interesting.

  13. Thanks, Kevin. This is a nice review. I would love to make it to FAIR. I saw that the Church website linked to FAIR when the recent Jesus/Joseph DVD was distributed. Seems that they are increasing in their stature. Those speakers look great.

    I don’t think there is antipathy against apologetics per se in the ‘nacle. I do think there is antipathy against crappy apologetics, though.

  14. Matt W. says:

    I think the “antipathy toward crappy apolgetics” has led many to distrust apologetics in general. It’s a guilty until proven innoscent kind of thing. Also, the FPR people have talked about moving beyond apologetics to focus on “real textual criticism” on occasion. Maybe HP could speak to that… dunno.

  15. I have only been to the FAIR conference once, but it was great. Can’t tell if I’ll be able to make it this year or not, but fwiw, I am in the ‘nacle and I don’t have any antipathy against apologetics. Good last paragraph from Midgley.

  16. I’m going to try and make it this year. I have to confess I’ve not made it in prior years.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Bring some chocolate.

  18. LOL. I did to the SMPT conference but only a few people asked for it. Maybe this time I’ll set up a table and sell the chocolate?

  19. Christopher Smith says:

    I was surprised by the last paragraph as well. Good for Louis Midgley.

  20. Kevin Christensen says:

    As a side note on the forthcoming FR, I have read the essay by Alyson Von Feldt, which is a review of William Dever’s Did God Have a Wife? Beyond locating his book in the current discussions and noting the relevance to LDS thought, she brings in some materials that Dever overlooked, and as a result makes some observations on a key artifact depicted in Dever’s book (the terra cotta offering stand that he gives only two or three sentences) that is mindblowing and important, with far reaching implications.

    IMHO the FARMS Review has been far and away the most essential and consistently good LDS journal for years. The recent essays by Ashurst McGee and Larry Morris, for instance were both amazing.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  21. g.wesley says:

    i think the ashurst-mcgee article first appeared elsewhere (jmh?).

  22. I realize that Mormon apologetics is something of a minority taste among participants in the Bloggernacle.

    To the degree that this is true it is most surely an error. Even if you disagree with the majority of what FAIR or FARMS publishes, it is surely best to maintain some level of communication with them — if nothing else just to understand what these groups are up to.

    Please continue to keep us up-to-date with what FARMS and FAIR are doing.

  23. jupiterschild says:

    Kevin C.,

    Do you (or anyone) know what Von Feldt’s background is? The terracotta offering stand (I assume you’re talking about the one from Taanach) is interesting–I’ve never seen a convincing interpretation of it and I’m interested in what Von Feldt has to say about it. Tx.

  24. Kevin Christensen says:

    I met Alyson at a few inservice meetings when we both lived in Lawrence, KS, though in different wards meeting in the same building. Her husband became the Bishop of their ward. I believe she has five children and at least one University degree. She got interested in Margaret Barker’s The Great Angel around the same time I did (1999) when we were both teaching institute classes. By sheer persistance and enthusiasm, and she managed to get herself included in the May 2003 Barker Seminar at BYU. She has an Occasional Paper on Wisdom Teaching in the Book of Mormon forthcoming from FARMS, hopefully this year. It’s a fresh vision, bringing out things no one had thought of seeing in the Book of Mormon before.

    And yes, the offering stand is the one from Tannach, around 1200 BCE, as I recall. She looks at it in light of her own close observations of the artistic depictions on the stand in comparison to Barker’s close reading of the Hebrew text of Ezekiel’s visions, and also to key imagery in the Book of Enoch. I’ve encouraged her to send a copy to Dever when the Review comes out. According to Shirley Ricks, her review is the “most reviewed” essay in terms of the number of people reading it, that they’ve ever had in the FARMS Review.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

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